Google could launch custom CPUs for Chromebooks in 2023
Google recently teased that its upcoming Pixel 6 and 6 Pro will feature a custom-made CPU called Google Tensor. This will be the first time the company designs its own processors and moves away from Qualcomm. But the plans apparently don’t stop there, as Google is also readying custom CPUs to power Chrome OS-based laptops and tablets. According to a report by Nikkei Asia, we could see Chromebooks launch with custom Google CPUs as early as 2023.
The idea that Google is working on in-house processors for Chromebooks isn’t completely new. Back in April, initial reports came out about Google building custom CPUs for phones, tablets, and laptops. Sure enough, we saw part of that materialize when Google teased the Pixel 6 family a couple of weeks ago. If that’s any indication, there was already a good chance we’d see custom Google CPUs for Chromebooks at some point, too.
According to Nikkei‘s sources, Google’s transition to custom CPUs for laptops and tablets was inspired by Apple, which began a similar transition last year. After using Intel CPUs for over a decade, the Cupertino company began switching to Apple Silicon, starting with the Apple M1 that’s now inside the MacBook Air, the iPad Pro, the 24-inch Mac, and more. Devices with this new processor have proved successful, so Google wants to try something similar.
Much like Apple Silicon, Google’s custom processors will be based on technology from Arm, thanks to the company’s fairly open licensing scheme. Arm-based processors power pretty much every smartphone out there, and now, some PCs, too.
Custom processors like these are desirable for differentiation. For example, with the Pixel 6, Google’s Tensor processor is specifically designed to handle computational photography even better with AI processing, as well as things like HDR video. Plus, it’s also improving voice recognition, real-time translation, and more. The company can build a chipset that’s more tailored to the needs of their devices, which (hopefully) means more compelling products.
Of course, we have yet to see just how well the transition to custom CPUs turns out for Google, be it on Chromebooks or phones. We still don’t know everything about the Pixel 6, not even a release date we can look forward to. That will be the first time we can judge Google’s ability to design chips that offer a better experience on its devices. Then we’ll have to wait a while longer to see if they can do the same for laptops.